“If you wish to make an apple pie from scratch, you must first invent the universe.” -- Carl Sagan

Tag: covid-19

A Year in the Life of COVID-19

I was in MoMA in NYC on February 28th, 2020.  I was at the Midtown Hilton for an O’Reilly Architecture conference, but it was boring, so I went to MoMA.  I have pictures on my phone from running around and taking pictures of the art.  My favorite is OOF.  Edward Ruscha, 1962.

“The single word, its guttural monosyllabic pronunciation, that’s what I was passionate about,” Ruscha has said of his early work. “Loud words, like slam, smash, honk.”

How I avoided getting COVID, I have no idea.  I should have gotten it.  

My last day in the office was March 12th, 2020.  I went home a day before we closed the office because I was having terrible allergies, and didn’t want to drive into DC for one day.  After all, we’d all be back in the office by May, at the very latest.  How long could this last?

March 19th is the day the pandemic actually started for me.  Lots happened on that day, but the one that sticks in my memory is sales 0.  That was the first day that the sales ticker did not turn over, not once, not even for fraud.  It was the first of many.  Not a great look for a business travel startup — one I am no longer with, because sometimes there’s no path except through.

All kinds of deeply insane things have come to pass between then and now.  Donald Trump told us all to shoot up Clorox bleach.  Australia — the entire continent — lit on fire.  George Floyd riots.  Hong Kong protests.  Kobe Bryant died.  Volcanos erupted.  Killer bees.  We elected the most improbable man, Joe Biden. The notorious RGB died. Crazy QAnon people rushed the Capital.   Millions of people got COVID, and 500K+ Americans died.

Today marks one year.  I’m still struggling with reading non-fiction and writing anything more long form than a blog post.   I’m still not going anywhere.

Gaming saved our sanity through the pandemic.  Without tabletop gaming over Zoom, I’m not sure what we would have done.  We haven’t gamed so much since college.  It was the one social activity we could do over Zoom that was consistent, predictable, and totally worked.   We come to praise D&D, for lo, it was a gift in the pandemic.  

2021 seems to be looking up?  The world lacks swarms of killer bees.  Granted, Texas did improbably freeze, but these things happen.  We’re in line in Howard County for vaccines.  

I’m done thinking about this. Let’s go for the stats:

We’ve had 30,422,504 cases of COVID-19 with 553,899 dead.  But, according to the Vaccine Progress Bot:

  • 115,730,008 given, that’s 20.7% done! 442,277,181 to go.
  • Optimistically we’ll be done by 08/08/21.
  • Our current pace is 2,503,731/day, which is up 29,969/day dod. At this rate, done by 09/11/21.

PS.  THE Ohio State was just eliminated from Tourney by Oral Roberts in the first round.  2021 is definitely looking up.

Day 293 of COVID-19, New Game+ Edition

What day is it? How long has it been?

It’s New Year’s Day! We beat the 2020 end boss and now we’re here at the loading screen. We can either play a new game entirely and reboot the universe or we can click on NG+.

I’m all in favor of rebooting the universe but I’m not sure that would work out well for everyone. Instead, we click on NG+.

Here are our Starting Conditions for our RNG Seed for 2021. Since one thing 2020 taught us, we’re not only all stuck in a big, weird simulation, it’s a simulation that uses weird procedural generation to cough up random events like murder hornets – your algorithm for such may vary.

The Good

  • We elected Joe Biden to the Presidency, even though he has yet to leave his basement in Delaware.
  • We have multiple vaccines floating around out there!
  • No thermonuclear exchanges.
  • Some of my various interests are returning back to life.
  • My knitting game is way more badass now because what else do you do during the pandemic?

That is, frankly, better than nothing which is where 2020 sat from March 19th until maybe around November 10th. For a long time, the only thing good in the world was nothingness.

The Bad

  • People are dying at the rate of a 9/11 a day now. And no one seems to notice or care. We’re all numb. 1M+ hospitalized, 340K dead.
  • And oh hey, there’s now a more infectious version of COVID-19 running around! Sweet!
  • Vaccine rollout is Trump-era stupid. See? NG+.
  • Highly entitled morons who, through their jobs as first-line responders, got access to the vaccine are refusing it. I mean… what? Really. What? WHAT? Jesus Christ, if you don’t want it because you’re an idiot — I’m sorry to people who object to me calling these people idiots but they are idiots — please give it to someone else and quit your job. Get out of the way.
  • Trump still someone believes that the election was “stolen” from him (but not from anyone else newly elected, just him) and for reasons that make little sense, he’s decided to enact a coup via the courts using the world’s dumbest legal team. None of it makes sense, he’s lost 60+ cases, but ok. You do you.
  • Congress is going to screw around with the largely ceremonial counting of the votes on Jan 5th, also for no good reason. But it’s safe for them to do that because Mama Nancy and Papa Mitch will ensure nothing bad happens.
  • I’m starting to understand Mitch McConnell and admire his Lawful Evil ways. This is not a good thing.
  • We are all still locked in our goddamn houses.
  • USPS imploded for Christmas. I am still missing packages.
  • I had to change jobs, which interrupted everything. Swords of the Serpentine still isn’t out in hardcover. I kinda stopped writing much at all or creating anything.
  • Still too fat despite exercising more and eating less.

That is the state of play. We’re set up to replay 2020 in some new horrible configuration.

Here are my very loose predictions:

  • There will be more fires, more hurricanes, more murder hornets, more strangling snake plagues, more various inexplicable horrors. They will be worse than last year and hit more people. And it will suck.
  • California will be on fire again.
  • Biden will be inaugurated on January 20th but Trump will do something bizarre like have a renegade inauguration at Mar-A-Lago or something. But then, I know this is hard to believe – he will fade and fade fast. No, his adult children won’t have any sway. The Media covers him because he is POTUS. The Media will move on to the new shiny.
  • We will be super bored with President Biden and have to find new hobbies other than doomscrolling. May I suggest photography?
  • So much crazy will suddenly end we won’t know what to do with ourselves after 5 straight years of intense non-stop crazy. It’ll be quiet and kind of nice.
  • Vaccine rollout will be a mess, and all us hoi polloi won’t even get a whiff of maybe access to a Vaccine until June. If we’re super lucky. It’s a long goddamn wait for access. But States will stand up vaccine trackers so we’ll have new websites to reload over and over.
  • Expect more explosions around race and policing, harder, louder, and more insistent. That genie is not going back in the bottle.
  • Masks will become a permanent thing. They aren’t going away. Flu season? Masks. Have the sniffles? Mask.
  • None of us will ever go back to 5 days in the office ever again. Those days are over. Nor will there be tons of very expensive business travel. I’m seeing a permanent shift in the way we do things.
  • Neither will we go to movie theaters, and it will be a long time before we do alot of the in-person things we want to do.
  • Alot more AI doing weird AI things coming in 2021. Alot more.
  • But the moment it is safe for me to do so, I’m going to Korean BBQ and doing all you can eat until I puke.
  • I’ll probably pick up projects again.

Ugh. At least we have Animal Crossing.

By Fall of 2021 we will be crawling out of the mess, dazed, and assessing the wreckage. It’s possible that we’ll get a huge economic bounce in the Fall that will go into 2022 as pent up demand explodes. After all, after the Spanish Flu, we had the Roaring 20s and we had 10 years of absolutely insane growth until the Great Liquidity Trap of 1929. We might find ourselves surfing a crazy wave.

But the world will be a different place than what it was in February of 2020. That is the way of plagues. There is no going back, only going forward, and we will find a world forever changed. They are the bringer of change, the metamorphosis power that warps the world.

Into what? We’re going to find out the hard way.

Anyway. Happy New Year, Peeps. Remember to back up your save game file.

Stats:

  • 250,485,430 completed tests
  • 19,715,030 positive cases
  • 336,779 dead from COVID-19
  • 276,662 cases in MD with 5,895 deaths

80,000 people will die by Inauguration Day.

Day 152: A Day in the Life of COVID-19

I’ve reached new heights of frustration with WordPress.  It upgraded to WordPress 5.5 and broke the connection between WordPress.com and my site.  I was working in the regular WordPress block editor when a spare keystroke somehow deleted my entire post.  I went to restore it from drafts, and learned that the new fancy Block Editor no longer keeps a running log of drafts, so if you hit something wrong, through a stray finger stroke because, say, you have arthritis in your hands, posts are just gone.  So this sucks.  

Right now, I’m using MarsEdit.  Since I don’t use it all that much, my layout foo is not great.

Instead of writing the entire post out again, here are some highlights:

1. I wrote up the Eversink Post Office for Swords of the Serpentine and published it on Critical-Hits.  You can go read it.  I didn’t get any feedback either way, but if people like these things, I’ll write more of them.

2. I’m sort of hooked on the high ridiculousness of spy networks in the late-Renaissance, early-Modern period.  Crypto key exchange by sneaker net is hilarious. And broken.  But there’s an awesome adventure awaiting whomever can break into the government building or diplomat’s office and steal the big codebook with all the one time pads.  Who wants the book?  Who do they work for?  What is the motivation?  If you hand it over, what happens? It’s a terrific mcguffin.

3. I have lots of opinions on the Big 10’s canceled season but they all boil down to: “It is Donald Trump’s fault there is no Michigan Football this year and I hold him personally responsible.”  MAGAworld blah blah blah spin spin spin.  He could have stopped this thing months ago and chose not to because a blue state might get some Federal support.  I’m sorry.  It’s his fault.  He’s in the big chair.  I hold him responsible.

4. I’m sort of bemused by the Biden selection of Kamala Harris as his VP.  She was the front runner the entire time.  She was the conventional, consensus pick.  She was the one everyone assumed he was going to take as his running mate.  And when he did so, we were all shocked.  Shocked!  Shocked by the conventional wisdom!  I read a piece complaining that Biden’s campaign is bland.  

I don’t know about anyone else but I’m absolutely fine with bland.  Bland, right now, is good.  Bland is competent.  Bland will get problems fixed.  Bland will stop tweeting.  Bring on the bland.

5. I’m as frustrated as everyone else about this incredibly nonsense with the post office.  The idea here is to simply stop everyone in the country from voting.  Here’s the deal: I am planning to go out and vote even if I have to wear a hazmat suit.  It will happen.  And so should you.  This thing with the mail should stop no one from voting even if we have to go put ourselves at risk for it. 

6. This whole idea of “let’s change jobs and take a prestige job in the middle of the pandemic” wasn’t as well thought out as I thought.  While they’ve been doing a nice job with onboarding, and my equipment is upstairs, my nerves are a jangle.  I feel like my bloodstream is full of glass.  I don’t do well with change or the unknown or anticipation on the best days, but my nerves are shot for 2020.  I know I’ll feel better in a couple of weeks, but yeah… the nightmares are something else.  I’m fairly freaked out but I’ll make it work.

7. I got birdcam to work.  Last time I worked on birdcam, it took me weeks.  This time, it took about two and a half days.  For those who don’t know what birdcam is, it’s a IoT project designed to automatically detect and share pictures of birds (or fire hydrants or, occasionally, bears) on the Internet. It’s a PIR (passive infrared sensor) hooked to a raspberry pi.  When the PIR detects movement, it sends a signal to the system to take a picture with the onboard webcam.  The picture is sent to a service running Keras and Yolov3 object detection pretrained model.  Keras returns a set of predictions with confidence intervals.  If the model finds a bird in the model with more than 50% confidence, it tweets the picture out.  It also stores the image in one of several sorted buckets on S3.

Mostly what was in birdcam was old, now dead code.  And I bought it a new brain (aka a RPi 4 B).  But no birdcam today.  It’s raining all day.  And I have a make magazine catalog of other possible brains for IoT projects.

Stats:

  • 63,731,305 completed tests.
  • 5,179,655 positive results
  • 168,275 dead from covid
  • 97,959 Cases in MD with 3,713 dead
  • 1 in 82 people have it in Howard County

So, because Trump wants fewer tests, we’re now testing less instead of testing more.  And people wait weeks for results.  This is insane.   It’s just insane.  And the whole “move the CDC data to HHS” has been a debacle.  Hiding data and generating less data doesn’t make the positivity rate go down, and doesn’t stop fewer people from dying.  We’re up to 1500 people dying a day again.  We have a 9/11 every 48 hours.  Why is this ok?  I do not get how this is ok.  

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